We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 English Standard Version
Our belonging in Christ is an act of God’s grace.
We were once alienated and enemies in our mind with God, but now through Christ, we are reconciled to God and made right with His righteousness. Reconciliation changes our relationship from hostility to peace with God and peace with one another.
We best demonstrate our belonging to Christ through forming and nurturing a community where we know we are loved and welcomed and where we are valued for the persons God has created and gifted us to be. Such a community does not keep to itself, but it shares and spreads its life and truth to others over time and without fear.
All barriers are no longer impenetrable or cannot be overcome—given the truth that Christ who is our peace has created in Himself a one new humanity. Any hindrance or any failure to be a loving and spiritually healthy community is our own doing or ignorance. The gospel tells us, even though we are many and diverse, we are already united in Christ. As such, we are not working to create unity in our community—rather we are working from the unity that is ours by grace through faith.
The Apostle Paul praises the Thessalonians for their love, and for the gospel sake, he urges them to love each other more and more. In order for the gospel to thrive, there must be a community of believers who, first and foremost, knows they are perfectly loved by God and then they learn to perfectly love God through loving each other and those around them.
Every time we come together, we celebrate God and each other and every time we disperse, we take our celebration of community to people who genuinely desire to belong and be part of it. When we don’t celebrate community well, we somehow give the idea that God receives some and rejects others. This is certainly not reflective of the gospel.
The good news of the gospel is “the feast is ready—all are welcome at the table.”
We are invited to the gospel feast, not because of who we are, but in spite of who we are. It is only because we have been welcomed by God that we extend the welcome of God to everyone.
© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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